Article

Problematic Mobile Gameplay Among the World's Most Intense Players: A Modern Pandemic or Casual Recreational Pursuit?

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Abstract

This study investigated problematic mobile gameplay. Adopting Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-style criteria for pathological gambling to identify cases of problematic play, the study compared the mobile gaming habits, preferences, and demographics of problematic and nonproblematic game players. Of the 1,950 mobile players sampled, 3% (n = 58) demonstrated signs of possible pathological behavior. The nonproblematic players showed characteristics identifiable with the casual mobile game player, who plays as a quick distraction to pass time when waiting or out of boredom. By comparison, the problematic players were found to play as a means of avoiding responsibilities and as a possible distraction from pain and discomfort. The findings help substantiate claims that mobile gameplay is a casual activity at least for the majority of individuals. However, for some, mobile gaming can interfere with different aspects of life and, in worst cases, may lead to pathological dependence.

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Experts have long endeavored to understand the draw of video games on youth and how this entertainment medium can be used for learning. The anytime, anywhere, and on any device nature of mobile technology may offer new opportunities for researchers and educators interested in leveraging the potential benefits of game-based learning. In this chapter, we offer a review of the literature on the benefits of video games, specifically focusing on mobile games and their educational contribution. We summarize what is currently known about the use of mobile games in learning, providing examples of mobile games explicitly called out in the literature that have been experimented with and/or used to explore game-based learning. The purpose behind this chapter is not to debate the practice of introducing video games into the classroom, but instead spark interest in future research, driving forward the study of mobile games as a learning medium.
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This chapter presents issues surrounding the definition and conceptualization of problematic gaming, discusses its history, and reviews research into its epidemiology, associated factors, and treatment. A noticeable shift in the mode of video game play has occurred from “pay-to-play” arcade video games and stand-alone video games to online massively multiplayer video games. Many terms have been proposed to describe the excessive and detrimental use of video games, which in severe cases has compulsive or addictive characteristics similar to those seen in substance addiction. There are large inconsistencies in the prevalence rates of problematic gaming. Young males and university students appear to be at greatest risk. Studies have demonstrated an association of problematic gaming with numerous personality dimensions and traits and psychiatric disorders—neuroticism, aggression and hostility, sensation seeking, and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder. Treatment interventions for problematic gaming include cognitive-behavioral therapy, other psychological treatments, and pharmacotherapy.
Article
The negative aspects of smartphone overuse on young adults, such as sleep deprivation and attention deficits, are being increasingly recognized recently. This emerging issue motivated us to analyze the usage patterns related to smartphone overuse. We investigate smartphone usage for 95 college students using surveys, logged data, and interviews. We first divide the participants into risk and non-risk groups based on self-reported rating scale for smartphone overuse. We then analyze the usage data to identify between-group usage differences, which ranged from the overall usage patterns to app-specific usage patterns. Compared with the non-risk group, our results show that the risk group has longer usage time per day and different diurnal usage patterns. Also, the risk group users are more susceptible to push notifications, and tend to consume more online content. We characterize the overall relationship between usage features and smartphone overuse using analytic modeling and provide detailed illustrations of problematic usage behaviors based on interview data.
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In this study it was predicted that there would be a close relationship between the use of mobile phones and the maintenance of interpersonal solidarity. The relationship between the addictive use of mobile phones and the maintenance of interpersonal solidarity was empirically analyzed among 188 female adolescents. The results showed that those who have a greater tendency to be addicted sent numerous text messages from places such as schools, where the excessive use of mobile phones can be a problem; furthermore, this group used such behavior to maintain interpersonal solidarity. These findings suggest that it is important to try to understand the causes of adolescent girls' use of mobile phones and to suggest alternatives to problematic behavior.
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We used to think that video games were mostly for young men, but with the success of the Nintendo Wii, and the proliferation of games in browsers, cell phone games, and social games video games changed changed fundamentally in the years from 2000 to 2010. These new casual games are now played by men and women, young and old. Players need not possess an intimate knowledge of video game history or devote weeks or months to play. At the same time, many players of casual games show a dedication and skill that is anything but casual. In A Casual Revolution, Jesper Juul describes this as a reinvention of video games, and of our image of video game players, and explores what this tells us about the players, the games, and their interaction. With this reinvention of video games, the game industry reconnects with a general audience. Many of today's casual game players once enjoyed Pac-Man, Tetris, and other early games, only to drop out when video games became more time-consuming and complex. Juul shows that it is only by understanding what a game requires of players, what players bring to a game, how the game industry works, and how video games have developed historically that we can understand what makes video games fun and why we choose to play (or not to play) them.
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Internet use and video-game playing are experiencing rapid growth among both youth and adult populations. Research suggests that a minority of users experience symptoms traditionally associated with substance-related addictions. Mental health professionals, policy makers and the general public continue to debate the issue of Internet addiction (IA) and problematic video-game playing (PVG). This review identifies existing studies into the clinical and biological characteristics of these disorders that may help guide decisions as to whether or not IA and PVG should be grouped together with substance use disorders (SUDs).
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Failure to establish agreed-upon criteria by which to measure and identify online video game addiction has resulted in a lack of reliable evidence of the actual percentage of individuals who are pathologically dependent. Building upon prior research, the present study sought to better determine the magnitude of pathological online video game play using a distinction between core and peripheral criteria for behavioral addiction. Preferences and perceptions towards online video games and addiction were also examined to better understand players’ habits. A questionnaire was administered to 1332 South Korean students across 11 high schools and 1 middle school in an area surrounding the capital of Seoul. Using a monothetic and a polythetic classification system, findings showed rates ranging between 1.7% and 25.5%, with a 2.7% addiction rate when distinguishing core from peripheral criteria. These results may suggest that online video game addiction rates in intense gaming cultures such as South Korea are not as high as otherwise believed. The findings will be of assistance to educators, policymakers, clinicians, and researchers in understanding the challenges in deriving meaningful video game addiction prevalence rates, and thus being able to better separate reality from conjecture with regard to the notion of pathological game play.
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Scholarly attention to game culture has mostly focused on games that cater to gamers that the literature has deemed 'hardcore,' 'heavy' or at least 'mainstream,' games. Researchers doing so have explored how those who put in large amounts of time playing such games are also productive of the culture surrounding the game. Yet in relation to casual games and their players, we have seen a curious omission. Are elements of game culture such as game capital and the creation and avid use of paratexts specific to traditional gamers? And if not, do casual players differ in specific or important ways from those norms? This paper uses a case study approach to investigate those questions, as well as to draw attention to a neglected group---devoted fans of casual games.
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Over a period of thirty years, video games have evolved from Pac Man to photorealistic, massively populated, three-dimensional environments. Adolescents become involved with online virtual communities (tribes, guilds, groups) and play games on a daily basis with people they have never seen in ‘real’ life. Large online games provide a virtual environment in which they have fun and can freely experiment with different identities, speak other languages, and form new social connections at the same time. Nowadays, games have developed beyond simple concepts such as ‘eat-the-yellow-dots’ in Pac Man. Gaming now includes sophisticated persistent virtual worlds (World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, Guild Wars), competitive team-based online shooting games (Counterstrike, Team Fortress 2), and multiuser real-time strategy games (Starcraft 2, Warcraft 3). These changes are largely driven by the rapid developments in computing power and internet access, as well as by the declining costs of consumer electronics. As a result of increased availability, more people are playing games; however, some individuals seem to be playing more as well. A 2008 press release by the market research group NPD states that: “…of the 174 million gamers who personally play games on PC/Mac or video game systems, three percent are Extreme Gamers” (NPD, 2008). Extreme gamers play an average of 45 hours per week. A press release by the same firm two years later stated that this percentage had increased. In 2010 the NPD group reported that the group of extreme gamers had grown to four percent, emphasizing that “…extreme gamers spend two full days per week playing video games” (NPD, 2010).
Article
As we look over the last decade, the obvious shifts that can be gleaned are the erosions of once distinct categories such as ‘hardcore’ versus ‘casual’ gamer. Instead, we have witnessed an inversion whereby mobile games, once categorized as ‘casual’, became ‘serious’ and now casual again. With the ubiquity of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and location aware services along with the transformation of the mobile phone into the multi-mode mobile media, the capacity for mobile location-aware games to teach us new types of experience of place and sketch new cartographies for place has burgeoned. By traversing the online and offline simultaneously through haptic (touch) screens, the possibilities for mobile gaming to teach us new ways of experiencing place upon various levels — that is, not just as a physical geography but technologically, emotionally, psychologically — is endless. In this article I explore the various forms of urban mobile gaming, especially around the experiential and experimental types such as location-based mobile gaming. I focus upon a case study of the Korean mobile game group, Dotplay, in order to flesh out some of the ways in which place reflects, and is inflected by, mobile gaming.
Article
There is now a growing movement that views a number of behaviours as potentially addictive including many that do not involve the ingestion of a drug (such as gambling, sex, exercise, videogame playing and Internet use). This paper argues that all addictions consist of a number of distinct common components (salience, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal, conflict and relapse). The paper argues that addictions are a part of a biopsychosocial process and evidence is growing that excessive behaviours of all types do seem to have many commonalities. It is argued that an eclectic approach to the studying of addictive behaviour appears to be the most pragmatic way forward in the field. Such commonalities may have implications not only for treatment of such behaviours but also for how the general public perceive such behaviours.
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This paper reports a study that attempts to explore how using mobile technologies in direct physical interaction with space and with other players can be combined with principles of engagement and self-motivation to create a powerful and engaging learning experience. We developed a mobile gaming experience designed to encourage the development of children's conceptual understanding of animal behaviour. Ten children (five boys and five girls) aged between 11 and 12 years played and explored the game. The findings from this study offer interesting insights into the extent to which mobile gaming might be employed as a tool for supporting learning. It also highlights a number of major challenges that this format raises for the organisation of learning within schools and the design of such resources.
Article
As growing numbers of youth in the United States play video games, potential effects of game playing are being considered. We focused on gender-related aspects of gaming in a study of 206 college students. Men were significantly more likely than women to play video games two or more hours a week and to indicate that video game playing interfered with sleeping and with class preparation. A greater proportion of women than men complained about the amount of time their significant other played video games. Participants rated female video game characters as significantly more helpless and sexually provocative than male characters and as less likely to be strong and aggressive. Gender differences in participation and character portrayals potentially impact the lives of youth in a variety of ways.
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This paper argues that the recent concerns about video game “addiction” have been based less on scientific facts and more upon media hysteria. By examining the literature, it will be demonstrated that the current criteria used for identifying this concept are both inappropriate and misleading. Furthermore, by presenting four case studies as examples it will be demonstrated how such claims of video game addiction can be inaccurately applied. It is concluded that the most likely reasons that people play video games excessively are due to either ineffective time management skills, or as a symptomatic response to other underlying problems that they are escaping from, rather than any inherent addictive properties of the actual games.
Article
This study considered whether the distinction between core and peripheral criteria for behavioral addiction, previously drawn with respect to computing activities in general, applies in the specific area of Massively Multiplayer Online Game playing. Questionnaire items were administered over the Internet to 442 game players. Factor-analysis of the data supported the previous findings for computing in general. An addiction factor loaded on items tapping previously identified core criteria (conflict, withdrawal symptoms, relapse and reinstatement and behavioral salience) and a (non-pathological) engagement factor loaded on items tapping previously identified peripheral criteria (cognitive salience, tolerance and euphoria). Analysis of response frequencies supported the existence of a developmental process whereby peripheral criteria are met before core criteria. Players who might be considered addicted using a monothetic classification system involving only the core criteria were shown to spend a significantly greater amount of time playing per week than those endorsing only the peripheral criteria. It is concluded that the study supports the idea that it is inappropriate to use some of the previously used criteria for addiction when researching or diagnosing computer-related addictions. Implications of the present findings for Internet-mediated data collection methodologies are also discussed.
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This study surveyed Dutch adolescents and adults about their video gaming behavior to assess the prevalence of problematic gaming. A representative national panel of 902 respondents aged 14 to 81 took part in the study. The results show that gaming in general is a wide-spread and popular activity among the Dutch population. Browser games (small games played via the internet) and offline casual games (e.g., offline card games) were reported as most popular type of game. Online games (e.g., massively multiplayer online role-playing games) are played by a relatively small part of the respondents, yet considerably more time is spent on these online games than on browser games, offline casual games, and offline games (e.g., offline racing games). The prevalence of problematic gaming in the total sample is 1.3 percent. Among adolescents and young adults problematic gaming occurs in 3.3 percent of cases. Particularly male adolescents seem to be more vulnerable to developing problematic gaming habits.
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Researchers have studied whether some youth are "addicted" to video games, but previous studies have been based on regional convenience samples. Using a national sample, this study gathered information about video-gaming habits and parental involvement in gaming, to determine the percentage of youth who meet clinical-style criteria for pathological gaming. A Harris poll surveyed a randomly selected sample of 1,178 American youth ages 8 to 18. About 8% of video-game players in this sample exhibited pathological patterns of play. Several indicators documented convergent and divergent validity of the results: Pathological gamers spent twice as much time playing as nonpathological gamers and received poorer grades in school; pathological gaming also showed comorbidity with attention problems. Pathological status significantly predicted poorer school performance even after controlling for sex, age, and weekly amount of video-game play. These results confirm that pathological gaming can be measured reliably, that the construct demonstrates validity, and that it is not simply isomorphic with a high amount of play.
Article
Evidence supporting the application of Brown's (1991, 1993) conception of behavioural addiction to computing behaviour is presented. Questionnaire items tapping Brown's addiction criteria were factor-analysed along with others, including computer apathy-engagement and computer anxiety-comfort items of Charlton and Birkett (1995). Items relating to some of Brown's criteria (tolerance, euphoria, and cognitive salience) were found to be complex, an Addiction factor loading upon them but an Engagement factor loading more highly. Items tapping other criteria (conflict, withdrawal, behavioural salience, and relapse and reinstatement) were shown to be factor pure, with only the addiction factor loading highly upon them. It is concluded that Brown's conception of behavioural addiction can be applied to computer-related behaviour, although the relationship of milder facets of addiction, which are also merely indicative of high engagement, to computer-related addictions is non-unique. It is also concluded that classifying individuals as exhibiting pathological computer use using checklists based upon adaptations of DSM criteria for pathological gambling is likely to overestimate the number of people addicted to computing activities.